Bear in the Sand...
...modelling the Russian Armour in Syria-Libya, from Abrams Squad
Title: Bear in the Sand
Publisher: Pla Editions
With an interesting modern theme, this new on from Abrams Squad is very nicely done and contains some really excellent quality models. It is the first of this series of modellers books I have looked at, and I must say I am impressed. A soft cover book of 132 pages the first impression comes from not only the impressive diorama featured on the cover, but also in the 'feel' of the good quality paper used for it. One of the pleasures of reading a printed book, rather than something online, is the tactile nature of good quality paper.
This particular title covers two aspects, with the modelling of modern era Soviet armour and equipment, but in the setting of the recent Middle East conflicts. That in itself can generate some differing views but I have to say from the outset that this has been done in a very effective way. Perhaps to do with my age, having grown up during the Cold War for so much of my life, I have long had a fascination with Soviet armour, much of which is from that era and still in service with many countries other than Russia.
There are 10 different projects in here and these cover a good variety of equipment and scenarios. These are a T-72 Ural with scratchbuilt rebar stand-off armour: a GAX 69M; a BMP1; ZSU-23-4; a T-55 with added KMT-5 mine rollers; T-72; D-74 122mm artillery piece; VT-55 recovery vehicle; T-62; and then it is all rounded off with the 2S3 Akatsiya SP in a large and impressive diorama which is also the subject for the front cover illustration.
There is a common format to all of the articles in that they include some background notes plus a well illustrated step-by-step guide to the build of the vehicle, painting the figures where they are included and building the diorama base used to display them. Each one also has a good clear list of what was used for the build, such as the base kit, any conversion kits used, replacement tracks, the makes of the figures and so on. The modellers are all very skilled and the end results are top quality builds and well explained. I like them all, but the big diorama with the Trumpeter kit of the 2S3 is the winner for me. Not only is the SP itself very nicely done, as are the figures and the large city building diorama it sits in. For me this is a thought provoking scene. Seeing all the recent news footage showing cities in both Syria and Iraq, the devastation of the cities is to me so sad to see. That (largely) fellow countrymen bring such a level of destruction on their own people is to me such a terrible shame. The diorama gives a good impression of such a city building in a much ruined state, and the 2S3 rumbling through the streets as well. More to the point, it has been done with skill and attention to some very fine detail that brings it to life.
All in all there are some very nice builds in here, and with both straightforward kit builds as well as combinations using a base kit and then adding addition conversion sets to get something that bit different, plus scratchbuilt elements in many cases, and all brought to life with a diorama base, some simple, some complex. Lots of ideas and inspiration to get from this one.